The Draft Outlook for the Orlando Magic
  • James Horan

The Draft Outlook for the Orlando Magic


*Photo via USA Today

The Orlando Magic have a number of needs that can be addressed in the June 25th draft that include rim protection, shooting, a wing capable of replacing Tobias Harris' production should he depart, and an overarching need to improve their overall talent level. They should have some options available at the five spot that may or may not address some of these needs, including Kristaps Porzingis, Willie Cauley-Stein, Mario Hezonja, Justise Winslow, and Stanley Johnson. Off the Glass breaks down what each player brings to the table and categorizes them either as a “fit” or “non-fit”.

Draft Fits:

1. Willie Cauley-Stein-

“Trilly Willy” will fit the Magic and really should fit any team that needs could use help on the defensive end, as nearly all lottery teams do. Stein has incredible defensive awareness, reaction time, recovery speed, timing on blocks and steals and great mobility to defend quick players on the perimeter. At this stage, his most likely comparison is probably that of former Defensive Player of the Year and Dallas Maverick Tyson Chandler. Stein weighed in at 242lbs, standing 7’0.5” at the draft combine, so he clearly has the size to play center but has the mobility to defend fours, threes and perhaps even some twos. For an Orlando team that finished 26th in defensive efficiency, Stein would be a welcome addition. Orlando finished 20th in percentage of points from three-pointers but a reasonable 14th in opponent percentage of points from two-pointers(Team rankings.com), so you may ask why a rim protector is needed if they are getting burned from the 3 point line. The fact is the Magic play a conservative defensive style that packs the paint in an effort to prevent points in this area, leaving the three-point line wide open. With WCS in the fold, they likely wouldn’t have to over help on Vucevic’s poor interior defense, bolstering their defensive unit as a whole.

2. Mario Hezonja-

Hezonja is an intriguing prospect. He has everything you want in a combo two/three taken in the lottery: Size(6 foot 8), shooting ability(career 38 percent three-point shooter in Euroleague/ACB) and elite level athleticism. He has a quick, easily repeatable shooting stroke that a team can put to use from day one to stretch the floor. However, he is reported to have a family conflict that may pressure him to one day return to Europe similar to Rudy Fernandez, who had a short but productive NBA career. Holding all other factors equal, he probably offers the best combo of upside and readiness of players at his position for the fifth spot in the draft given that he is only 20 years old and already has three years of professional experience under his belt.

3. Stanley Johnson-

Johnson is a bruiser small forward, similar to Metta World-Peace in his prime. At 6’ 6.5” and 242 pounds with a low body fat percentage at 18 years old at the time these measurements were taken, he is a true physical specimen when it comes to his strength. He’s explosive when he has momentum and capable of throwing down thunderous dunks however, he is not as explosive from a standstill. He also has good ball skills and shooting ability, often tasked with creating his own shot as a freshman for Arizona(26.6 usage rate). There are some concerns about his half court finishing ability as he often does drive into a crowd and throw up wild shots over multiple contests, as evidenced by his low assist percentage(11.3). However, I believe he could be a 10-15 point guy off the bat for the right team if given the chance. He would likely not be efficient early on, but his overall body of work suggests he can be an immediate contributor.

Non-Fits-

1. Kristaps Porzingis-

Porzingis has intriguing athleticism, rim protection and stretch ability from the four spot. However, this is what he is projected to offer a team. Currently, his 220 pound frame at 7-1 and poor rebounding ability, he showed in Europe would likely hurt a team more than help it. What shots he blocks would likely become offensive rebounds to stronger opponents, because he gives up inside position too. He has a good, on-balance shooting-stroke, with a complete follow through that should be his most NBA ready skill. However, with the Magic’s recent public stance that it wants to compete sooner rather than later, he would be an odd pick with the Magic given they selected another project, Aaron Gordon, with the fourth pick in last year’s draft.

2. Justise Winslow-

On paper, Winslow looks like a better prospect than Johnson. He finishes at a higher rate, better athletically and was the second best player for the National Champion Duke Blue Devils. However, once you watch him play, you realize he has quite a bit of work to do as a creator in the half-court(4 percent lower usage rate than Johnson). I will admit I didn’t watch every Duke game this year, but his limited ball skills and high 2 point percentage suggests he benefitted from playing with the best offensive weapon in college this year, Jahlil Okafor. Okafor drew many double teams and his teammates opportunistically scored off of them, as every NBA team does. Winslow is also undersized and likely will play a two in the NBA, and the Magic are deep there.

Wild Cards-

1.The Knicks take a player other than Emmanuel Mudiay-

While it is likely the Knicks select Emmanuel Mudiay to be their point guard of the future with the fourth pick, they are also being reported as looking at other players there, such as Willie Cauley-Stein. If Mudiay falls the Magic, as well as Elfrid Payton has been for them and projects to be, they would be foolish to pass on him. Mudiay, at 6 foot five, can play either guard spot and maybe even some three in the right matchups and would offer by far the highest potential left on the board.

2.A trade down-

In this draft, it is possible that the fifth pick may not be much worse than the 10th or 12th. Players like Myles Turner, Devin Booker and Frank Kaminsky all offer something to an NBA team and will be available in that range. The Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers may decide to go for a long-term strategy with their pick, fall in love with the long-term potential of Stein, Winslow or Porzingis and offer a nice package for one of them. This would be an offer the Magic couldn’t refuse.

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